Photo: NHL/Getty Images
The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on Wednesday evening, and hockey fans are ready to enjoy the ride. For the first time ever, the Washington Capitals will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in postseason play.
The Capitals and Blue Jackets faced off four times during the regular season. The Capitals took 3 out of the 4 matchups, including the two matchups at Capital One Arena. The Blue Jackets one victory over the Capitals came on February 26, which was the day of the NHL Trade Deadline.
Beyond their regular season matchups, each club has some statistical advantages over its opposition. Let’s dive a little bit deeper as to where each club stands in various areas:
EVEN STRENGTH GOALS FOR
Capitals: 197 (6th)
Blue Jackets: 193 (10th)
EVEN STRENGTH GOALS AGAINST
Capitals: 177 (13th fewest)
Blue Jackets: 168 (9th fewest)
Capitals: 22.5% effective (7th)
Blue Jackets: 17.2% effective (25th)
Capitals: 80.3% effective (15th)
Blue Jackets: 76.2% effective (26th)
SHOTS ON GOAL
Capitals: 2,379 (29 per game) (31st)
Blue Jackets: 2,761 (34 per game) (5th)
The Capitals and Blue Jackets are very evenly matched at 5-on-5 play. Both clubs score and give up around the same amount of goals.
The Capitals have a strong advantage in special teams play. The Capitals powerplay is in the NHL’s top 10 for most of the year. The Capitals penalty kill dipped a bit this season, but managed to recover a little bit for a middle in the pack slot. The Jackets powerplay and penalty kill are in the bottom half of the league.
The Jackets advantage on the ice comes with shots on goal. The Jackets are one of the NHL’s top teams with getting shots on goal. The Capitals were the worst team in the NHL with generating shots on goal.
Below is a comparison of the Capitals and Blue Jackets top 5 skaters, plus a look at goaltender statistics:
CAPITALS SKATERS AND GOALTENDERS
BLUE JACKETS SKATERS AND GOALTENDERS
COMPARING THE STARS
The Capitals have 2 forwards that recorded 80+ points this season, as Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov eclipsed that plateau. The Blue Jackets offensive dynamo is Artemi Panarin, who recorded 27 goals and 82 points in 81 games.
The Blue Jackets defensive pair of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski is a dynamic pair that plays a lot of minutes and gets plenty of offensive production. Jones, 23, recorded 57 points this year, which was 2nd most on the Blue Jackets behind Artemi Panarin. Washington’s production from defenseman John Carlson was some of the best in the NHL this year. Carlson recorded 15 goals and 68 points, which are career highs for him.
Both clubs have at least 3 skaters that recorded 3 20+ goal scorers. The Capitals had 11 skaters that scored 10+ goals, while the Blue Jackets had 10 skaters with 10+ goals.
While Braden Holtby’s production slipped this year, the Capitals got tremendous production from Philipp Grubauer down the stretch. In 28 starts, Grubauer recorded 15 wins, a 2.35 goals against average, and .923 save percentage. For Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky carried a bulk of the starts in net for the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky recorded 37 wins in 65 games, and recorded an impressive 2.42 goals against average and .921 save percentage.
The Capitals and Blue Jackets have plenty of star power in all of the areas of the rink. While the Capitals likely have more high end offensive talent, the Blue Jackets have had more consistency with their goaltending situation.
By: George Foussekis